A shocking loss. Orange Is the New Black alum Brad William Henke has died. He was 56.
“Brad was an incredibly kind man of joyous energy,” Henke’s manager, Matt DelPiano, said in a statement to TMZ on Thursday, December 1. “A very talented actor, he loved being a part of this community….and we loved him back. Our thoughts are with his wife and family.”
According to Deadline, Henke died in his sleep on Tuesday, November 29. A cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Born in April 1966, Henke attended college at the University of Arizona on a football scholarship before getting drafted into the NFL in 1989, playing for the New York Giants and Denver Broncos. After sustaining injuries that forced him to retire from professional football 1994, he moved to Los Angles and began an extensive career in acting by landing guest spots on shows like Chicago Hope, ER and The Pretender.
In 2001, Henke scored his first lead part on Showtime’s Going to California before appearing as a recurring character on Justified, Lost, October Road and Dexter.
The Nebraska native’s most notable role, however, was corrections officer Desi Piscatella in seasons 4 and 5 of Orange Is the New Black. In 2017, he shared a SAG award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series. The cast was nominated again the following year.
Three years later, Henke starred as Tom Cullen on the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Stand, which sees a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil.
“It’s Stephen King’s favorite novel that he’s written and so that means a lot,” he told Tell-Tale TV at the time. “It was the best experience I’ve had in acting so far in my whole career. I haven’t had very many opportunities in my career where I have been offered this job three months before it starts. So many times, it’s just right before it starts. So I had so much more time to work on it and prepare and just think about it, dream about it.”
Outside of the small screen, the former professional athlete made appearances in several blockbusters like 2005’s Must Love Dogs, 2013’s Pacific Rim and Split in 2016.
Henke’s latest on-screen roles included Discovery’s Manhunt and Law & Order: SVU in 2020 and the 2022 films Block Party and Run & Gun.
The Nash Bridges alum is survived by his mother, Tammy Henke, his sister, Annette, his wife, Sonja Henke, stepson Aaden, stepdaughter Leasa and grandchild Amirah.
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